January 2012 Newsletter

Analyze Your Own Website

Our 2012 newsletters will show you tools you can use to evaluate your website performance and demonstrate ways your web developers improve your website performance. The measure of performance is getting specified or accepted on more projects.

I see three major tasks to improve website performance for many building product manufacturers:

1. Improve the number of organic (free) Google incoming users.

Some easy-to-implement changes will make a significant difference; more difficult changes can be implemented in the longer term as part of a major redesign.

2. Improve your content for the design professional on your website. Provide the content design professionals need to evaluate and use your products: add well written specs, CAD details, BIM objects and a LEED statement (where appropriate).

3. Improve the navigation within your website to make the content easier to find and use.

4specs has always been considered a fast site. Using these tools, I was able to cut the 4specs average page load times from 3-4 seconds to under 1 second, faster than 93% of the websites.

As an example, after some simple changes, the website shown below loads much faster - 8.3 seconds to 3.8 seconds - improving the visitor experience. This type of change is easily done on many websites.

[Image no longer available]

Over the coming months, I will be using three primary tools to help you make this evaluation:

1. Google Analytics - About 2/3 of the people receiving this newsletter already have Google Analytics installed on their website. Be sure you have access to this information. Add Google Analytics to your website if you do not have it already.
http://www.4specs.com/s2a/news/0706_google_analytics.html
http://www.4specs.com/stats/google_analytics.html

2. Google Webmaster Tools - originally called Google Sitemaps. Google has expanded the information available. You will want to verify your website to access this information.
http://www.4specs.com/s2a/news/1003_site_maps.html

3. WebPageTest.org - I will be using real examples of building product manufacturer's websites and showing ways to improve speed and performance. The test tool is:
https://www.webpagetest.org/

This month's recommendation is to get a quick evaluation of how your web pages can be faster. Try your home page and an interior page on the compare tests provide by Google and WebPageTest.org. The run will take a few minutes to complete. Several websites were much faster with the code changes. This simple test does not explore all the changes that can be implemented.
https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/service/tryit

This may seem like a lot of work, yet increasing the number of free visitors from Google and other search engines, providing all the design information needed and making it easy (and logical) to access your design information is a worthwhile effort that will pay back over time.

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Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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